A history of the Fish Wars: 40th anniversary of the Boldt decision

By | February 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

From arrests to apologies, the passionate battle between Native American tribes and Washington state over fishing rights has been intense and lengthy.

Photo credit: The News Tribune

Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of a federal court ruling that affirmed treaty fishing rights for tribes. For the 80 Indians still alive who fought for their rights to fish in Washington’s waterways, they might finally get closure.

House Bill 2080 would erase criminal records  and clear the names of Indians who were arrested during what is known as the civil rights movement of the Pacific Northwest: The Fish Wars.

A glimpse of history

In 1854, Washington tribes gave the U.S. two million acres of land in exchange for money, three reservations and access to traditional fishing rights under the Treaty of Medicine Creek. Similarly, the 1855 Treaty of Point No Point ensured Indians had a right to fish.

However, as salmon populations declined, the state implemented new regulations on net fishing in Puget Sound rivers. The state wanted tribal fishermen to be held to the same standards as non-tribal fishermen, but Indians ignored regulations.

This confrontation sparked the “fish wars” which intensified during the 1960s and 1970s.

Hank Adams, a Sioux from Montana, played a significant role in getting this issue national attention.  He set up protests, fish-ins and rallies, and he even got Marlon Brando to participate in a demonstration in Olympia.

The Native Americans were instigating confrontation — and the police responded violently.

Sept. 9, 1970 marked the most extreme raid when Tacoma officers and other agents arrested 72 tribe members — including ten juveniles — using tear gas and firing shots.

Finally, federal government got involved and filed the lawsuit U.S. vs. Washington. In 1974, U.S. District Judge George Boldt ruled that the tribes were entitled to up to 50 percent of the harvestable salmon and the ruling known as the Boldt decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court five years later.

The long-awaited decision had a powerful impact on the tribes.

Photo credit: The News Tribune

The former Washington Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander, who was a young attorney at the time said, ”This sent shockwaves, not only through the commercial fishing community but to the public at large. That decision really ignited a lot of pride and energy in the Indian community.”

Moving forward

The Native Americans may have won in their fight for justice, but the ruling could not erase the past. Decades later, the criminal records from the arrests still impact about 80 tribal members and often stop them from getting loans, adopting children or leaving the country.

Now, lawmakers in House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee are trying to give the convicted Indians a change to expunge their records. Under the measure that is expected be considered on the House floor within the next few days, tribal members could apply to the sentencing court to revoke their convictions if they were exercising their treaty fishing rights and not convicted for a violent crime. (more…)

On tonight’s edition of The Impact: Education reform, jobs and Supreme Court news

By | January 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

On this week’s edition of The Impact, host Jessica Gao outline the major themes of the opening days of the 2012 session, including the various job creation proposals. Plus, why the state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice is doing temp work in county court.

Preview of today’s events at the Capitol

By | January 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire will be delivering her State of the State address at 10:15 a.m. in a joint session, immediately followed by the Republican response. TVW will be live with both speeches — and live blogging here, too.

We’ll also be following the 1:30 p.m. education hearing in the House, where they’ll be discussing the recent Supreme Court decision that said that the state isn’t doing its duty to fully fund education. They’ll also be looking at innovation in schools. Catch the full recap of today’s events on tonight’s edition of Legislative Review at 6:30 p.m. on TVW.

At 3:30, we’re watching the House Transportation Committee. They’re scheduled to hold a work session on the governor’s supplemental transportation budget.

More on the Supreme Court ruling that the state isn’t fully funding education

By | January 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

This morning, the Washington Supreme Court released a long-awaited decision on the McCleary case. Their verdict: The state isn’t doing it’s paramount duty to fully fund education. Read the full opinion here.

While the court said the Legislature has failed at it’s primary function, they did say the state is headed in the right direction: “The legislature recently enacted sweeping reforms to remedy the deficiencies in the funding system, and it is currently making progress toward phasing in those reforms.”

For that reason, the court says it will retain jurisdiction on the case — and keep an eye on legislative progress — to ensure that schools are fully funded by 2018.

This morning, lawmakers at the Associated Press Legislative Preview offered reaction. House Speaker Frank Chopp said he’s “very hopeful” about the ruling because it specifically mentions the reform bill that has already passed the legislature.

Rep. Richard DeBolt said that the ruling underscores the need to fund education first. He wants the Legislature to write an education budget first, then worry about funding everything else with what’s left of the budget.

But Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said she disagrees with DeBolt’s approach and equated it to ignoring other critical parts of the budget, like public safety and social services.

Gov. Chris Gregoire headlined the event and said the ruling “puts an exclamation point” on what she’s been saying for a while.

Attorney General Rob McKenna said at a press conference later in the day that he’s pleased that the court addressed the case. He said the superior court ruling was so far-reaching, it could have made the state and schools vulnerable to endless lawsuits. “This is a much better opinion, a much clearer opinion and an opinion that’s easier to follow,” he said.

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Supreme Court announces McCleary decision, says state is not fully funding schools

By | January 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

This morning, the TVW crew is at the capitol for the Associated Press legislative preview, where legislative leadership, the governor and human services and education advocates are talking to the media  – you can watch along live on TVW.

In the meantime: The Supreme Court announced this morning that the state is not fully funding education. You can read the full McCleary decision here.

We’ll post more on it after the AP forum.

Gov. Gregoire appoints new Supreme Court Justice: Steven Gonzalez

By | November 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Steven Gonzalez to the Washington State Supreme Court. He replaces Justice Gerry Alexander, who retires at the end of this year. Gonzalez will begin his term in January.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said his experience “with profoundly important issues, close study of the law and perspective as a trial court judge will make Judge Gonzalez an excellent Supreme Court Justice.”

“I look forward to serving with my colleagues on the Supreme Court,” Gonzalez, who will be the first Latino justice, said, “Thank you.” His speech got a standing ovation from the packed room.

“We have cookies and punch for 20,” said Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, joking at the large turnout for the event.

Gonzalez has served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District. He has also served in King County Superior Court. And he has a long record of volunteering in the community. He’s married to Michelle Gonzalez, assistant dean of the UW Law School. They have two children.

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This Week’s TVW Coverage: Revenue Forecast, Redistricting Maps, More…

By | September 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

A new and possibly budget-busting state revenue forecast and plans to carve out new state congressional and legislative district boundaries highlight TVW’s coverage for this week.  Both those events, and others, will be shown live on TVW and live on the web at tvw.org — check TVW’s air schedule here.

We’ll also have live coverage of two legislative hearings, Senate Ways & Means on Monday, and a joint House hearing on Tuesday, both looking at K-12 school issues.  The State Supreme Court’s fall docket kicks off Thursday, TVW will carry three of the four cases live.

We’ll be at Seattle CityClub Tuesday covering a conversation with new UW President Michael Young, and at The Olympian Editorial Board Wednesday recording pro-con interviews on I-1163, the in-home care initiative.  On Saturday we’ll be in Port Angeles for the ceremony that begins the removal of the Elwha River Dams, and at the Seattle U Law School for a conference on civics education and the law.  All these events will be recorded and televised this week and/or next.

Coming up in just a few minutes: The Supreme Court hears arguments in the McCleary schools case

By | June 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

Today at 1:30, the state Supreme Court will hear arguments in McCleary v. Washington — the court case alleging that the state of Washington does not adequately fund public education. The case will be televised live on TVW.

The case was already decided last year in Superior Court, where Judge John Erlick ruled that the state is not fulfilling its Constitutional duty to fully fund public education. The state appealed that decision.

Read more on the background here. And don’t forget to tune into TVW in just a few short minutes to watch.

On TVW now: Supreme Court on whether faculty disciplinary hearings should be open

By | October 28, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court is hearing Mills vs. Western Washington University right now — live on TVW.

The case revolves around whether faculty disciplinary hearings should be open public meetings. Professor Perry Mills, who is bringing the case, is fighting to have such hearings open — his lawyer is arguing that faculty disciplinary hearings are quasi-judicial and should be open.

One justice asked why the client wanted the hearing public. “I don’t know that he was thinking through the process of people will testify more truthfully if it is open … he thought that if it was open that the university would learn the truth,” the lawyer said.

Here’s a bit more on the case, from the Bellingham Herald: “Mills was suspended for two quarters without pay in 2006 after allegedly making a variety of abusive remarks. He argued that his disciplinary hearing, which was closed to the public and the press, should have been open.” Mills wanted the hearing to be open in part because he felt like his suspension was retaliatory. A lower court ruled that he was not given his right to an open hearing, and that ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Tune in now.

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Supreme Court fall docket starts today – watch live on TVW

By | September 14, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court started their fall docket today – kicking off the calendar with a case involving the Seattle Times. For the next two months, they’ll hear dozens of cases from around the state. Read more about those cases here.  

And, of course, you can watch: TVW covers every single Supreme Court session live on www.TVW.org – just click on live programming to watch.


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This week’s Q&A: Supreme Court candidates

By | July 30, 2010 | 1 Comments

Sorry for the delay, but this week’s Q&A is very special: I went to Seattle earlier this week to co-moderate debates between Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson and challenger Stan Rumbaugh and Justice Richard Sanders and challenger Charlie Wiggins (the other challenger, Bryan Chushcoff, didn’t show. Neither did Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, who is running unopposed).

The candidates discussed their views on judicial activism, victims’ rights,  the relationship between the Legislature and the court, medicinal marijuana, the high-earners income tax on the ballot, gun rights, opponents’ allegations and much, much more.

Here’s the video:

On a related note: Have you received your ballot yet? They were sent out this week, so check your mailbox. In the case of the candiddates in the video above, if one gets more than 50 percent of the vote they win. No general election required.

Supreme Court issued death sentence opinion today

By | July 29, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court issued an opinion today on Brown vs. Vail over whether using a three-drug cocktail constituted “cruel and unusual” punishment. The decision: Since Washington has already moved from a three-drug cocktail to a one-drug system in March, the Department of Corrections argued that the constitutional challenge was “moot.” The court agreed.

That means Brown — Cal Coburn Brown, who was convicted of kidnapping a woman at knifepoint in 1991, then sexually assaulting and torturing her for 36 hours before killing her — can be put to death. Brown was joined in the lawsuit by two other convicted killers.

Brown’s execution date is set for Sept. 10 — though further legal challenges could cause delays.

In the unanimous opinion written by Justice Debra Stephens, the court wrote: “It is the policy of the State of Washington to execute inmates condemned to death by use of lethal injection, now under a one-drug protocol. The legislature properly delegated authority to the Department to develop and implement the death penalty protocol. And we decline to issue a declaratory judgment invalidating the Department’s use of the substances involved in lethal injection on the basis of state and federal controlled substances acts. As a result of the Department’s adoption of a one-drug lethal injection protocol instead of three-drug protocol on March 8, 2010, the Appellants’ constitutional challenge to the protocol is moot.”


State Supreme Court will hear Goldmark-McKenna disagreement

By | July 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court will hear a disagreement between State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark and State Attorney General Rob McKenna — in November.

The short background: An Okanogan County utility wants to condemn some state forest land to put a power line through it. A district court judge ruled that the utility could do so, but the state — specifically, lands commissioner Goldmark, wanted to appeal. McKenna refused, and Goldmark took it to the Supreme Court (which meant getting another lawyer in the process).

On Nov. 18, oral arguments in the case will be heard in Olympia.

Goldmark said in a statement that he’s pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to take up his case. “It is a critical constitutional question of whether or not the Attorney General has the discretion to make policy for issues under the purview of another statewide elected official.”

Morning update: R71 verdict, new budgeting process and more

By | June 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

I’m headed up to the capitol now for two press conferences. The first, with Attorney General Rob McKenna, will cover the U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning that petition signatures are a public record.

The second, at 10:30, is with Gov. Chris Gregoire. Gregoire is going to announce a new budgeting process. This press conference will be shown later today on TVW.

Check back here in a few minutes for all you need to know.

Reed: R71 hearing went “very, very well”

By | April 28, 2010 | 0 Comments

I’m rushing to a conference call with Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna, but here’s an initial report on Reed’s reaction to their hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court over whether signatures to initiative petitions are a public record: It went “very, very well.”

Here are his full remarks, via Dave Ammons, his communication director: “In my opinion, it went very, very well.  I feel guardedly optimistic that we’ll prevail. The questioning really favored our point of view.”

Justice Scalia at one point said “Democracy requires a certain amount of civic courage.”

“The questions were about the harassment aspect and did that concern amount to enough to therefore deny open and transparent government, is it a problem of sufficient weight to overrule what the people have voted in the way of open public records?”

Check back in a few minutes for the text and audio of the conference call.

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Watch The Impact here

By | April 22, 2010 | 0 Comments

Lt. Gov. Owen’s ruling on publicly funded Supreme Court races

By | February 16, 2010 | 1 Comments

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen just ruled that Sen. Don Benton is right — the $3 municipal court fee to pay for publicly funded Supreme Court races does not constitute a solid enough nexus. Therefore, passing the bill to publicly fund Supreme Court races will take a two-thirds vote.

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Should Supreme Court races be publicly funded?

By | February 2, 2010 | 0 Comments

The House State Government and Senate Government Operations committees each held a hearing today on a bill to publicly fund Supreme Court races.

Why? In 2006, $4.3 million was spent on three Supreme Court seats in Washington, according to John King, policy chair of Washington Public Campaign. He told the House that money comes from big spenders with equally big agendas — and that means more moderate candidates will be edged out. “This bill aims to counter any movement toward bankable votes,” he said — candidates would have to get a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot.

And Katy Sheehan with the League of Women Voters told the House that public funding for Supreme Court campaigns would work toward combating corruption and promote citizen interaction. “The recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion will likely aggravate the trend” of spending on campaigns. She said the bill is effective because it only gives money to candidates who have shown — through signature gathering — that they have broad public support.

Here’s a discussion on the very topic, featuring former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Gerry Alexander, former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton and more:

Day 1: Let’s review. From privatized liquor sales to some good economic signs.

By | January 11, 2010 | 1 Comments

Here’s a handy run-down of what happened today:

- Chief economic forecaster Arun Raha said revenue collections for the past two months are actually higher than he forecast in November. Yet …

- A comprehensive review showed the state’s economic climate hasn’t improved relative to other states.

- The state could save around $10 million by streamlining information services for five agencies and potentially $277 million for privatizing liquor stores.

- House Speaker Frank Chopp said the state needs to create a moral budget without cutting the most vulnerable and Rep. Richard DeBolt said the state needs to encourage business development, which will finance a healthy future.

- The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee discussed banning BPA.

- Chief Justice Barbara Madsen was sworn in.

Want more? Watch Legislative Review at 11 o’clock tonight or 7:45 tomorrow morning.

Chief Justice Madsen: “This is overwhelming!”

By | January 11, 2010 | 0 Comments

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and former Chief Justice Gerry Alexander just switched chairs, meaning: It’s official.

She said the experience was overwhelming before turning to Alexander so he could speak a few words. Alexander said he was surprised when he took the office that he didn’t get a gavel. So he presented Madsen with an engraved gavel.

“It’s not just some cheesy piece of wood I found in the back yard and had carved up,” he said. “This item was carved from the wood of a Big Leaf Maple tree” he said. The tree was 8 feet in diameter and stood near the Governor’s mansion. The stump can be seen today. “It is believed this tree predated the 1909 construction of the mansion. I want you to know I got this piece of wood legitimately … I didn’t steal it!”

Madsen then spoke. “It’s going to be difficult not calling you Chief,” she said. “When I thought about this ceremony, it seemed like an appropriate time to share my vision for the Judiciary,” she said. “As a public defender, I learned that there is some good in every person,” she said, adding that she also learned about diversity.

Tune into TVW now for the live ceremony.

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